Ramaphosa gets tough on gender-based violence and femicide

President Cyril Ramaphosa after leaving the protest. (Jan Gerber, News24)
President Cyril Ramaphosa after leaving the protest. (Jan Gerber, News24)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has upped the ante in government’s fight against gender-based violence and femicide. He has called a joint sitting of Parliament where the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces will meet on Wednesday to discuss the scourge currently gripping the country.

According to the statement issued by the Precedency on Tuesday, the focus will be on “the attention of elected public representatives and the nation at large on the crisis of gender-based violence and femicide”.

The president used his prerogative, under section 84(2)(d) of the Constitution, to call the joint sitting: “In the last two weeks South Africa’s approach to violence perpetrated against women has changed fundamentally.

“We all have the responsibility to ensure that these events become the turning point in our fight against gender-based violence,” the statement read.

This directive comes after Ramaphosa recently engaged with protesters outside Parliament where he gave women the assurance that government will intensify action against men who abuse and kill women.

The march to Parliament took place amid a spate of deadly attacks on women and girls in around the country. On Monday, in a keynote address at the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union’s congress in Durban, the president reiterated that “lawlessness would not be tolerated in this country”.

Ramaphosa is also skipping the UN General Assembly meeting, which runs from September 23-26, “to prioritise the implementation of initiatives to tackle gender-based violence and restoring stability to areas affected by recent violence”.

International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor will represent Ramaphosa in New York next week.

Pandor, briefing the media in Pretoria on Monday, said that while government regrets the attacks on foreign nationals, more must be done to build bridges and change perceptions by promoting social cohesion.

“While recent events cannot be tolerated. As human rights experts have said, it is wrong to call South Africans xenophobic. What has occurred challenges us to build our economies, strengthen skills so that people don’t have to become economic migrants.

“As the Southern African Development Community we need more value-addition, beneficiation, innovation and skills sets for digital economies,” Pandor said.

She said South Africa would affirm its commitment to multilateralism at the UN and the central role of the UN in global governance.

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